Jumat, 16 Mei 2008

Sprints Nextel unit could return to its public safety spectrum roots if a proposal being considered by Sprint management is approved. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Nextel co-founder Morgan OBrien, who has been seeking to assemble a nationwide public safety network, has been meeting with Sprint management about acquiring Nextel.

Sprint has become a veritable hot potato as a wave of suitors, possible partners, and investors have been talking with the third largest U.S. cell phone provider, which has been in a relentless downward spiral ever since it acquired Nextel for about $35 billion in 2004.

Fascinated by Nextels successful push-to-talk technology, which was popular with construction workers and other business professionals, Sprint quickly found to its chagrin that governmental agencies wanted Nextel to vacate wide swathes of its spectrum that were interfering with public safety agency bandwidth. The government still wants Nextel to vacate the spectrum, and its difficulty in doing so has been a key reason for the downward decline of Nextel.

A Washington Appeals Court last week intensified the pressure on Nextel to vacate spectrum that could interfere with public safety communications. The court ordered Nextel to stop using some of the spectrum.

Congress became alarmed when public safety networks performed poorly in the terrorist attacks of September 11 and during the natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina. One result was the setting aside of D Block spectrum in the FCCs recent 700 MHz auction in an attempt to establish a nationwide public safety network. The spectrum, however, failed to attract any serious bids and the unsold swath still languishes.

OBrien has been trying to cobble together a consortium of investors and agencies that could create a national wireless network with public safety overtones. A company headed by OBrien, Cyren Call, advises the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corporation, which also has attempted to sort through the public safety spectrum mess.

Public interest groups have suggested that the government take over the creation of a nationwide public safety network.

A disposal of Nextel by Sprint would help the latter focus on its other efforts, including its struggle to roll out WiMax and 3G cell phone service. Sprint has been losing subscribers at a rapid rate and a disproportionate percentage of the losses have been in the Nextel unit.

The company has been talking acquisition and partnerships with a myriad of firms. It rebuffed an earlier attempt by former Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue to return to the company through a $5 billion investment, according to media reports last November. In recent days, Germanys Der Spiegel magazine reported that Deutsche Telekoms T-Mobile unit was interested in acquiring Sprint. The German telecom provider owns T-Mobile in the U.S., which, if combined with Sprint, would catapult the combine into becoming the largest cell phone provider in the U.S.

See original article on InformationWeek.com


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